You guessed it, I just got back from a vacation. While it was great to get away, I also realized something that we probably all know, but few of us pay attention to – vacations make sticking to habits extremely hard. And If the vacation is more than a couple days, it can affect our habits when we get back to “real” life as well because we have gotten out of our routine. I know what some of you are saying Read the rest of this entry »
Years ago I realized that we all have habits, some good, some bad, some consistent, some not so consistent. I also realized there are many habits we would like to have, but don’t for whatever reason. Occasionally in my mind I would think about my own habits and make a conscious effort to do better. Of course this rarely worked, and after years of just thinking about doing better, I decided it was time to figure out what habits I wanted and how to track my progress. I started off with a simple concept; I made a spreadsheet in Excel that listed all of the habits I wanted to work on in the first column. Then I put each day of the month in the top row. I then decided what days, or how many times a month I wanted to do each habit. For example: exercise Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, and Friday. And would highlight each cell for that habit that fell on the appropriate day. I would print this off once a month and have my habit mix. At the end of each day I would go down the column for that day looking for highlighted cells and then check whether I had done each habit or not. This actually worked extremely well, it only took about 30 seconds each night and at the end of the month I had a good amount of data that showed my personal habits.
I also started to notice something when I looked at these monthly habits. I noticed that a lot of the habits fell into similar groups, for example:
- Go on dates with wife twice a month
- Daddy Daughter/Son date with each child once a month
- Implement weekly Brady Bunch shenanigans
- Take leftovers for lunch 4 days a week
- Pay extra on mortgage
- Purchase stack of lotto tickets
- Exercise 5 times a week
- No eating after 7pm
- Colon cleanse 4 times a day
These groups are what I believe are “Core Values” for people. Looking at my Core Values I realized that the things that I thought and wanted to be the most important to me, weren’t always reflected that way based on my habits. I noticed that some habits were easier to complete and more engrained in my lifestyle, while other habits were more difficult to complete and needed work. The bad thing was I needed to change some habits, the good thing was, I was able to realize I needed to make those changes. This got me thinking a lot about other people in my life: friends, family neighbors, co-workers. I started looking at these people and I started to notice what was most important in their lives based on some of their habits. Some were very focused on money/work, others family, some on religion, and I realized that very few had a good balance of everything, or a good “Habit Mix”. The ones that did have a good mix, seemed to be the most happiest. After tracking my habits and Core Values for many years, I have also started to recognize that peoples Core Values change as they hit different stages in life.
After using the spreadsheet for a while, the geek in me wanted more stats, more precision, percentages, and a saved history, not just paper, so I could evaluate over longer periods of time. This is when I decided to build HabitMix.com and make it available to everyone. Why? Because that’s just the kind of guy I am, a selfless, benevolent, eco-friendly, altruistic saint that loves to help other people. Oh, and I want to charge people for their hard earned money ☺
While building this tool I wanted the simplicity of the spreadsheet to always remain at the heart of the service so I Built it with the following in mind:
- Extremely easy to use for anyone
- Fast to setup, less than 5 minutes to enter habits/goals/core values
- Fast to update daily progress, under 30 seconds
- Accessible from anywhere (hence web version)
- Easily be able to evaluate your current state and progress
- Affordable enough for anyone to use
So I took the simple spreadsheet concept and built a website around that idea. HabitMix is a web-based tool that will allow people to track and change habits, achieve goals, and find out what is truly important to them in life.
When I started building this I thought to myself… I want to build a tool that will allow millions of people to better their lives. I want to allow people to see their strengths and weaknesses, help them decide where they want to go, and then help them get there. Yes I know, sounds pretty dramatic, but at least I didn’t say “I want to build a tool that solves world peace”!
Many will say they don’t have the time to track their daily habits, to those people my reply would be the famous quote “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. The planning we are talking about here is for your life, and if you don’t take the time (30 seconds a day isn’t much), you are planning to fail in life!
Who should track their habits? Take this simple quiz to find out if you need to.
This article was written to give you some background on what HabitMix.com is about, and how it came to be. Give it a try here and let me know what you think.
Below are three types of goals, most people have heard of “SMART” goals, but take a look at goals that are DUMB and DUMBER, and make sure your goals don’t have these characteristics.
-Your goal must be specific in every aspect, think about who, what, where, when, why, and how.
-Your goal must be measurable, if it’s not measurable, how do you know when you achieved it?
-Your goal must be attainable by you. This doesn’t mean you can’t shoot for the moon, just make sure you have a realistic way of getting there (see below).
-Your goal needs to be realistic, do you have access or can you obtain access, to all the skills, people, knowledge, and equipment you will need for this goal?
-Your goal needs to be time bound. You need a date of completion, that doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t go over it, but you need a date set or you will never be pushed to finish (or start for that matter). You also need to track your progress along the way.
-Is this really the goal for you? Were you drunk when you decided to do it? Did someone you know have this goal so now you want to try? Make sure this goal is for you, and for the right reasons.
-It’s very important to make sure your goal is realistic given your circumstances.
-Don’t set a mediocre goal that is easily achievable, you won’t push yourself to see what might have been and you will get bored easily.
-Don’t set a boring goal, make it challenging and exciting.
-If there is not much effort involved the goal is probably not worth it, and there won’t be much satisfaction after achieving it.
-Don’t be random, be specific with all aspects of your goal, as well as your habits needed for the goal.
What other advice do you have for smart and/or dumb goals, leave a comment and let me know.
Meet Rod and Todd, Rod and Todd are brothers in there mid 30’s. They have a mutual friend named Bart. Bart has talked them both into running a marathon 8 months from now (who needs friends like that). The brothers are both out of shape, neither has ever run any kind of race, let alone a marathon, and they don’t jog or exercise regularly. Rod and Todd would have liked to train together but their schedules won’t permit it.
Since these guys are pretty good at setting and achieving goals, they both realize they need a plan. Rod thinks about his goal of running a marathon, he wants to set a SMART goal and so he sets a goal to “Run and finish the 2010 Springfield Marathon”. While Rod is thinking about how he is going to train he remembers that in Junior High he once ran a mile in something like 6:20. He figures that was awhile ago so he better pad it a little – so he decides to train at a 7 minute mile pace (a fast pace, but still extremely slow compared to Olympic runners). He finds a great website for marathon training, plugs in the 7 minute mile pace and prints out a training schedule to follow. He looks at the schedule and decides that for him to able to achieve his goal he needs to develop a habit of running, so he decides on a habit of ”running 30 miles a week, at the 7 minute pace”.
His brother Todd also remembers the mile run in Junior High, but he also remembers that their regular gym coach was out sick and that they had a sub named Willie (he was a ground’s keeper or something).
He also remembered that Willie wasn’t too bright and instead of having them run 4 laps around the track for a mile, he only made them run 3. Todd sets the exact same goal to “Run and finish the 2010 Springfield Marathon”. But here is where Todd is a little smarter than Rod. Todd knows that he needs a specific goal, and he also knows that if he wants to achieve this goal, he must develop some habits. However, Todd knows that habits should be general and not too specific because they may need to evolve and change over time so that the goal can be achieved. Todd decides his habit will be to “run at least 5 days a week”. He doesn’t say how far he has to run, he doesn’t say how fast he has to run, he doesn’t even say which days he needs to run. He knows he just needs to get in the habit of running.
Now let’s jump ahead to the first day of training. Both Rod and Todd go out hard on the first day. In fact (like most people) they are excited about their new goal and they are a little over-enthusiastic. They both run around 3 miles at a very fast past. They both get home drenched in sweat, they are breathing like every breath might be their last, and they actually end up losing their lunch right before crashing on the couch for the rest of the day (a few of us have been there and done that).
Now Rod wakes up the next day, and for some reason every muscle in his body has decided that it’s on strike, any movement will result in excruciating pain. No running for Rod today, maybe tomorrow. The next day Rod feels a little better but not much. He looks at his habit of running 30 miles a week at a 7 minute mile pace. He barely ran 3 miles at that pace 2 days ago, and he missed yesterday. He tries to go running and can’t even run the first mile under 7 minutes because he is too sore. He walks home frustrated and dejected. He gets home and rips up his training schedule and decides he is done with the marathon. He didn’t even make it through a week and he has already quit. Sounds depressing huh? Except this is an all too common occurrence for many people.
Todd also can’t run the day after, and feels sore the day after that as well. He looks at his habit of running 5 times a week and just tells himself to at least just go out and run. He only runs for a little while, not even sure how far and comes home. He realizes that he will need to run a little slower in the future, but he his happy that he will be able to still get his 5 runs in this week. Long story short, Todd sticks to his habit, runs and finishes the marathon, and achieves his goal!
This is an extremely common scenario that we all encounter in life. Remember its ok to set big goals, in fact we need to set big goals! The problem is the small steps or habits that we do to achieve those goals:
- we make them too hard
- we make them too specific
- we get discouraged and quit
Don’t set yourself up for failure before you have even started your goal. Focus on creating general habits that can and will be accomplished.
What do you think? Agree or disagree, comment and let me know.